10 Cold and Flu Remedies That Really Work

10 Cold and Flu Remedies That Really Work

From Grandma's chicken soup to hot chile peppers, these treatments can help.

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Aches. Sniffles. Fever. Cold and flu season is in full swing. When you’re sick, you just want to feel better in a hurry. There’s no cure for a cold or flu, but we’ve got 10 home remedies that can help, from chicken soup (your grandma was right!) to hot chili peppers. Not sure if you have a cold or the flu? Take this quiz.

Hot Tea with Honey and Lemon

2 / 11 Hot Tea with Honey and Lemon

When you're sick with a cold or the flu, drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated, and make sure they're hot. Black tea helps soothe a sore throat and chase away the chills with a good dose of virus-fighting interferon. Add a dollop of antioxidant-rich honey and a squeeze of lemon for vitamin C. Take our quiz to learn more ways tea can boost your health.

Orange Juice

3 / 11 Orange Juice

Crave orange juice when you’re sick? It’s full of vitamin C, which may help shorten a cold's duration of and work as a natural decongestant. Aim for 500 mg of vitamin C four times a day. A cup of OJ has 124 mg. Other good sources of vitamin C include strawberries, tomatoes and broccoli. (More ways vitamin C is a health-saver.)

Hot Peppers

4 / 11 Hot Peppers

Hot chili peppers contain capsaicin, the compound that gives them their kick and acts as a decongestant to help relieve a stuffy nose. Can't stand the heat? Mild bell peppers can help, too. They don’t have capsaicin, but they’re full of vitamin C.

Chicken Soup

5 / 11 Chicken Soup

Grandma was right—a bowl of chicken soup does make you feel better when you're sick. This time-tested remedy contains cysteine, an amino acid that's chemically similar to a bronchitis drug to help reduce inflammation. The salty broth also helps thin mucus, and the protein in the chicken helps you produce disease-fighting antibodies.

Garlic and Ginger

6 / 11 Garlic and Ginger

Both garlic and ginger can offer potent cold and flu relief. Garlic helps bolster your immune system to squelch an infection, while ginger helps tame nausea. Add a little ginger and garlic to your chicken soup to boost its cold- and flu-fighting power. (Here's how ginger can help soothe pain, too.)


7 / 11 Steam

There's a reason why you feel better after taking a hot shower—or sit over a bowl of steaming water with a towel draped over your head. The steam shrinks the mucus membranes in your nose and throat, and encourages mucus to drain, which helps ease a stuffy nose and congestion in your chest.

Neti Pot

8 / 11 Neti Pot

A neti pot looks like a genie's lamp that can perform some sinus-clearing magic. Fill it with warm saltwater (use noniodized salt). Then stand over a sink, tilt your head to one side, and slowly pour the liquid through one nostril and allow it to stream out the other—along with a lot of gunk that's causing congestion. (Here's how rinsing your sinuses helps tame allergies, too.)

Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen

9 / 11 Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen

Fighting a fever with that flu? Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help bring it down safely. If your fever stays above 103 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours (especially in children), contact your doctor. Take this test to find out which pain reliever is best for you.


10 / 11 Oatmeal

Whole grains, like oatmeal, contain selenium, zinc and beta glucan to help support your immune system and fend off cold and flu infections. Add a generous dollop of yogurt—its probiotics may help keep a virus from settling into your respiratory system. (Learn more about another remarkable benefit of oatmeal.)

Nasal Decongestant Spray

11 / 11 Nasal Decongestant Spray

A nasal spray can help ease congestion. But don't overdo it. Using a nasal decongestant spray for more than three days can cause a rebound effect with even worse congestion.

Cold and Flu

Cold and Flu

Colds and flu are both viral infections, but have different symptoms. With a cold you will have symptoms such as a runny nose or a sore throat. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and may include fever, body aches or vomiting. While the...

re is no cure for either, there are treatments -- chicken soup, nasal sprays, rest -- which can help your feel better.